You are bringing home a new dog soon. You have done research on its breed, age, and history, so you have an idea of what behaviors you can expect from it. You have all of the gear–leash, crate, collar, and food. Now, you are in a bit of a panic, as you are thinking of some of the ways in which your life will be different from here-on-out. One way is that your daily routine will change. In the first couple of weeks, you will not have the relationship with your new companion that includes the mutual understanding and teamwork to ensure safety, order, and the balancing of needs of both pet and parent.
Hoping to get started on that new relationship and move towards the reestablishment of harmony? Beginning promptly to housetrain your dog and teach them obedience–with constancy and positive reinforcement–can really make a difference! You may want to make your dog’s first day with you a full one in order to advance as much as possible towards your goal.
The word “training” may send off signals to you to look at the section on basic commands, but beginning with housetraining–allowing them to explore home, crate, designated waste areas, and leash life–can address needs, such as your dog’s sense of security and ease. It can also make progress towards your own needs for your house’s cleanliness, and for building a strong foundation for caring for, trusting, and understanding your new pet.
Practicing the basic commands of “sit,” “come,” “down,” “stay,” and “leave it” with your dog within the first few days of bringing them home is of great importance. It contributes to your own peace of mind, as you can begin to trust that your dog will do as you ask in service of their safety or your need for order and peace. Juliana Weiss-Roessler wrote a helpful article for Cesar’s Way that describes a step-by-step process of training your dog for these 5 commands.
Methods and Strategies
The methods you use for training are important because they can both facilitate and/or hamper the learning process for your dog, and they can also influence whether your relationship is built on things like affection or fear.
Positive reinforcement is held in high regard as an effective and affectionate method for training pets. Rewards such as praise, petting, and treats are received happily by dogs and are shown to yield results. To better ensure that learning will happen, you can choose to follow desired behaviors swiftly with such rewards. It is also constructive to reward any progress made towards the fulfillment of commands and to practice the same behaviors often, eventually in different situations. This being said, the learning curve for your dog may be slow and they may not behave as you expected them to based on your research. Be patient and be willing to get creative and go through some trial and error with commands and treats!
The effectiveness and ethical value of negative reinforcement is contested in the training community. One resource suggests that non-physical negative reinforcement, such as placing motion-sensing air compressors in areas that you want your pet to avoid, like countertops or spaces containing fragile valuables or wires, produces results. Another argues that punishing pets for not completing a command can foster fear and resistance.
Training is a wholesome activity for you and your dog. It can be a good mental exercise for them, as they are challenged to figure out what it is you want them to do, or to figure out how they can get that treat. Furthermore, it can be a satisfying way of consuming energy, although other types of training, like sports or agility, can be more effective at tiring dogs out!
If you and your dog are hitting a roadblock in training with certain behaviors and are having issues finding the source and solution, a professional perspective can be beneficial. Veterinary behaviorists can help identify the cause of certain behaviors and offer suggestions for future work. Sugar Land, Texas is home to the Texas Veterinary Behavior Services, which can be contacted Monday-Friday and some Saturdays, from 10am-6pm at (281) 980-3737. Locally, you can contact Jennifer Lavendar or Pam Orms (contact information below).
Good luck training! And don’t forget that cats can do it, too, with many of the same strategies, and that both pet and parent can benefit from the process.
Pam Orms, Pam’s Dog Grooming and Obedience School, 2508 Hendricks St, Gladewater, Texas 75647,(903) 845-4890; https://www.facebook.com/PamsDogGroomingAndObedienceSchool
Jenny Lavender, People Training for Pets, 315 Meadowlark Lane, Longview, Texas 75603; (903) 702-9877;